The Vagrant setup I talk about in this post: OSX as the host system, Ubuntu as guest and VirtualBox as the provider.

I use a Macbook Pro as my work machine, but the environment requires Linux tools for building C/C++ apps and distros etc; hence I'm using multiple Linux virtual machines.

I used to run Linux VMs on VirtualBox directly. Hunting down and hand-configuring images was a pain. I found out that Vagrant simplified things a lot for me. There are however some things which will bite you when you start using it for serious stuff.

I ran into two pretty bad performance issues. The first one was that my network speed was pretty miserable, about 70 times slower than the host system.

It turns out that the problem was with the VirtualBox NAT-interface and the default Network Adapter type. Adding this line to my Vagrant configuration made all the difference:

config.vm.provider "virtualbox" do |v|
    v.customize ["modifyvm", :id, "--nictype1", "virtio"]

Now the download speed improved to an acceptable rate, about 15x more than I had with the default settings. If you’re using plain VirtualBox without Vagrant, switch the Adapter Type of your NAT interface from the GUI to Paravirtualized network adapter:

Paravirtualized network adapter (virtio-net)

Or just use the bridged mode which seems to be faster anyway. This is not an option in Vagrant, it requires eth0 to be a NAT interface. You can add another bridged interface but eth0 still has to be NAT.

I also ended up asking and answering my own question on Superuser about this.

The second performance issue was with the shared folder which is accessible via /vagrant on guest. If you have any large project or any builds running from the shared folder, you’ll bump into this issue. I noticed it when the my code’s tab completion appeared to be super slow. By default vagrant uses CIFS for the shared folder. To speed this up we can change this to use NFS instead. The solution was adding these lines to the Vagrantfile:

config.vm.synced_folder ".", "/vagrant", type: "nfs" "private_network", ip: ""

The latter line is required by NFS, you’ll get an error without it. It creates a host-only network. This second interface will be handy anyway, you can e.g. access your HTTP server via that IP and skip port forwarding.